Monday, July 17, 2017

Wheat Harvest at the NCRS

So last week the NCRS researchers completed wheat harvest.  It appeared to have gone very well, taking several  days of harvesting plots and taking weights, moistures and test weights.  It will all be sorted out for a summary report.  The yields were quite good though.
This is the only picture I got, as I was away on a fertilizer mission.  But it is similar to all locations, just a different background.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Have You Been To the Corn Palace? (Yes, Corn For Real!)

So if you were driving through a town and saw this sign, would you turn and go see what it was?  Of course you would.  Even if you weren't in agriculture, you have to see a Corn Palace.
 So this is in Mitchell, SD, about an hour West of Sioux Falls.  I had some research plots near there and was in town it would just be rude not to go.  I had been there before, but years earlier.  It seems that there has been a Corn Palace since 1892.  Each year there is a different theme and this building is completely decorated in corn to fit the theme.  The decoration is done in the fall.  This year the theme is "Rock of Ages".  

Here is one side of the palace.  There appears to be some construction happening.  But there is Elvis and some other rock depictions.  
See, it really is corn.  Good thing for different colored corn.  It would be pretty difficult if only using yellow corn.  Amazing.  There is no doubt who it is.
 And here's everyone's favorite Rocker: Willie Nelson.  Well they must have taken some liberties.  Maybe the corn artist is a big fan.  But again, no doubt who it is.  Maybe they were out of Ringo Starr corn.
 Even on the inside there are corn pictures, like here in the arena.  There was some sort of sale going on.  I was in a hurry so didn't go down.  But all of the scenes around the ceiling are made from corn. They don't know when to stop.
 So of course I bought a post card at the gift shop.  Here is what is looked like last fall when completed.  They were able to clear the street of cars, which I couldn't do.  But it looks nice and new there.
This was on Friday morning, and there were lot's of tourists there.  Including buses.  Everyone likes corn.  Now if they only knew what a struggle it is to produce it in a hot and dry year like this.  But I'm pumped.  Can't wait to see what the next theme is.  Hopefully a high-efficiency fertilizer theme.  I'd look good in corn.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Dine and Discover at the NCRS

So you may recall the blog post on April 19 about Lunch and Learn at the NCRS.  That was where area farmers were invited to the NCRS for Lunch and also to Learn about our well-researched crop nutrition products.  There was a good turnout, and it was decided to have more of these types of events during the growing season.  Well that happened last Thursday with Dine and Discover at the NCRS.  I was not able to attend either event, which may be why both were successful and well attended.  Although I hope it was because there was good interest generated at the last event, and growers wanted to see what is happening so far in the research plots this year.  Several experiments were shown on Farm 7 where the event was held.  Some growers brought soil tests, all asked questions and all enjoyed the Dining part.  Stephanie reported that there were 58 in attendance, including staff and farmer kids.   You can't start Discovering too early, so all were welcome. One guy drove 5 hours from Ohio! Photographer Adam from Marketing sent me some pictures to share. 

So that looked fun.  Lunch and Learn.  Dine and Discover.  It appears that there is an alliteration theme here.  Hopefully after harvest there will be Brunch and Brag.  

Ag PhD Field Day Learning Center Preview

So last Thursday I went on a Fertilizer Mission to Baltic, SD, the home of Hefty Seed Company and the Ag PhD Field Day coming up in three weeks.  AgroLiquid has shown at the field day for a number of years, and has always had some plot demos.  Well this year the plot has grown into a Learning Center.  What's that?  Well we have teamed with FMC, Farmers Edge and Hypro to provide a multi-team approach to learning more about various aspects of crop inputs.  Here is a view across part of the Learning Center showing soybeans, corn and sunflowers. There are also sugarbeets, date of corn planting (which will have a root pit), planter problems on corn emergence, interactions of crops and crop protection products, and probably lot's more.  It will be extra good because Stephanie and intern Adam went out in May to help get it established.  There will be a good staff of people from all of these partners to give a good overview of what is happening.  
 The guy in charge of getting the whole Field Day established for all vendors is our friend Glenn Herz from Hefty.  He is giving Retail Partner Chad Schlechter and I an overview of the Field Day layout.  I have never been here prior to the Field Day.  Usually we just show up and it all  looks great and ready to go.  But like everything, there is plenty of work in getting it that way, and Glenn does a great job every year.  
 At the Learning Center, there is a date of corn planting demo and the last date was the day we were there.  This is to see corn development all at the same time.  There is also another plot of different crops and the effects of different herbicides and other crop protection products on growth. Sort of a mode of action demo.  Glen is planting that below.  That wheat in the background will be the parking area.
This is a view from the Learning Center corn plots looking at the other crop demos below.  Varieties, crop protection, tillage, genetics and other ag aspects will be shown to the many thousands of visitors in just three weeks.  Of concern is the weather.  Well that is always a concern, but it is so hot and dry.  It was in the mid-90's when I was there, and calls for 100+ in the upcoming days.  And no rain before or after in the forecast.  Fortunately it was wet in May, in fact planting was delayed until May 18.  So the heavy soil is retaining far.  But I wasn't in the heat of the afternoon.  But I'm optimistic the Learning Center and entire Field Day will be great as usual come July 27.
There was one more task to complete.  I wanted to collect some soil samples from several of the sunflower plots here for some Haney Soil Health evaluations.  There are different nutrient inputs that may have an influence on soil health, so I will take some samples, send them off and find out. Although the dry conditions may have an effect, we will see and learn, which is why it's a Learning Center.  Chad is kind enough to bring me a small shovel and more importantly, some water.
I also had a chance to visit with several of the Hefty agronomists, Darren Hefty before the radio show, radio show producer Janelle, and the always delightful Marketing Director Matt.  So it was a good day.  See you at the Learning Center on the 27th.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Other Sights to See in Oregon

So it's no secret that one of my favorite things about traveling all over is seeing other sites worth seeing all over.  On my Oregon trip, Eric and I stopped by this place high over the Columbia River.  It is the Vista House at a place called Crown Point,  It was opened in 1918.  
 It is still in it's prime at 99 years old.  There is a gallery and shop inside.
 But the main attraction is the view of the Columbia River.
 Eric enjoyed the view while on a business call, as he often was.
Another stop was up river in the town of Boardman, OR, the site of the SAGE Center.  SAGE is a museum of Science, AGriculture and Energy.  It opened in 2013 and was developed by the Port of Morrow which is a major port for shipping of agricultural products from the area to the world.  There was an exhibit showing destinations all around the world for their local products.  So naturally we had to take a visit.
Even though they were right by the river, early area farmers had a tough time producing crops without water in the early 1900's.  Boardman, OR was first settled in 1903 by Samuel Boardman, who worked for 13 years to develop irrigation in the region, which changed the area forever.
 Eric learns the history of the area.  We did see a movie of how the town had to be relocated to higher ground in 1965 to make way for the John Day Dam.  The dams all along the river enable lots of energy, and more importantly, flood control.
There is plenty to learn about food production.  I will say that this is in a very small town, but is off of an interstate highway.  I hope they get enough people stopping by.  It was pretty good for explaining that food doesn't just come from a grocery store.
 Potatoes are a major crop in the area, and there was an exhibit on how potatoes are processed into consumer products.
 Curly a store or restaurant near you.  From out of the ground to a delicious food product just like that.  I found it very interesting.  By the way, all of this was moving in the exhibit.
So you may think that the SAGE center is similar to the IQ Hub.  Well, I found out that our own Burt Henry visited the SAGE center for ideas and sources back when the IQ Hub was being developed. Looks like both places are prime sites to visit for an education on real agriculture.  Both are worth the trip.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Everyone Likes Onions!

So onions aren't exactly like blueberries where you pop one into your mouth and eat it straight.  But onions help make food into good food.  So back to my trip to the PNW last week...on the trip out you could see lots of center pivot irrigation fields, especially here along the Columbia River.  And as you have heard or experienced yourself, not everyone knows what these are.  The guy next to me asked what those round things were.  Rather than be a wise guy and say they're huge putting greens on a 90 hole golf course, I explained that they are for watering fields for food production.  And they still look cool.
So I'm not sure if this is a map of the same place as in the above picture, but Eric and I were given a map to go find an onion field that has a fertilizer test in it.  Now that was a challenge.  This is a very large corporate type farm.  Well it's not exactly a corporation as we know it, but rather a substantial religious operation.  And very well run it is.  
So why water?  Well the picture below shows ground without water and a field of potatoes with water.  No irrigation, no food.
We finally found the correct pivot, and then located the stakes that divided the fertilizer treatments.  I am standing in the division of two treatments.  On the left is the normal application of 20 gal/A of 10-34-0 and 10 gal/A of Pro-Germinator on the right. To me the Pro-Germinator is bigger and thicker. Another treatment in the test is Pro-Germinator + C-Tech.  It looked good as well.  The plots are very big. However there is an unknown in this test.  The fertilizers were broadcast and incorporated prior to planting, which is different than the preferred band application.  But this farm is so large,  that's the way they say it has to be done.  So we will see come harvest.
This is over on the other side of the pivot.  I was surprised at how much of a change in elevation there was.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but I am way up higher than the top of the pivot towers down below.
This is a nice looking field of potatoes.  Not AgroLiquid.  But today onions...tomorrow potatoes.
Several miles away was another series of center pivot fields with this same large farm business. Again we are looking at pre-plant incorporated applications of 10-34-0 on the left and Pro-Germinator on the right.  As before, I am seeing better growth on the right with Pro-Germinator.  This population of onions seems lighter than the other field, and thinner yet on the left.  I moved over ten beds on each side from the center and took stand counts at five equal distances into the plots.  There were 20.5% more plants on the Pro-Germinator side.  But something was odd here.
This is a center pivot field, you can see the pivot in the above picture.  But they are using buried drip tape here for the water source.  That certainly enables increased water efficiency, but really only if the tape can water the whole width of the planted rows.  The picture shows that the outside rows are dry. They are probably getting some water underground, but not uniform for all rows. It was like this everywhere.  This is probably why the stand is thinner here than the other place.
While on this farm we noticed a variety of crops again.  And look at the thick trees at the back of this corn field.
Well this isn't an Oregon forest, but a crop of hybrid poplar trees.  There are some 50,000 acres of these in the PNW.  They are made to grow fast, up to 110 feet in 12 years at which time they are harvested.  Uses are lumber, wood building pieces, chips for pulp to make paper, among others.  It also provides plenty of wildlife habitat.
But how do they grow in this sandy desert?  There is drop tape at the base of the trees.
So that was interesting to see such crop diversity.  There is so much food and consumer products produced here in the Columbia basin where plentiful water enables so much.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Field Harvest of Alfalfa Plots

So I reported earlier about some alfalfa plots that we have on some area dairy farms.  Well those fields were cut yesterday (Tuesday), so it was time to take some yield checks.  I was away on a fertilizer mission, but Stephanie sent these pics of the operation using the methods we came up with.  MSU intern Jacob is in charge, and he assembled this frame that is 15 feet long and gives a rigid border to make the sample cut on the row of fresh-cut hay on the ground.
 Quinten and Jacob load the sample onto a tarp.
Then the sample is weighed on the scale wagon.  A sample is collected and saved for moisture determination to equate the various sample weights.  There were multiple samples collected like this for each treatment.
Samples were also collected as the hay was chopped for submission to the lab for quality measurements. These good field techniques will hopefully provide useful information.  That's AgroLiquid research in action.